Twitter has made its timeline algorithm code available on GitHub and provided a blog post to clarify the reasoning behind the move.
The article delves into the various factors considered by the algorithm in selecting tweets to appear in the For You timeline, as well as how the algorithm sorts and removes tweets.
“At Twitter 2.0, we believe that we have a responsibility, as the town square of the internet, to make our platform transparent. So today we are taking the first step in a new era of transparency and opening much of our source code to the global community,” stated Twitter in a blog post.
The release follows previous promises by Elon Musk to make Twitter’s opaque algorithms public, demystifying the platform’s source code for developers.
“[Twitter’s] algorithm goes open source at noon Pacific Time,” Musk tweeted to his 133.1 million followers last Friday. Since taking over the company last October, the billionaire has declared his intention to decentralize the platform.
We’ve been anxiously waiting for this moment.
— Pedro Ferriz de Con (@PedroFerriz) March 31, 2023
Code goes public
The move is expected to give developers more freedom to create new features and enhance the platform’s functionality. Certainly the announcement generated buzz on social media, with developers eagerly anticipating the release of the source code.
“Company goes private, code goes public lol, but I’m quite eager, every time code that was not initially intended to go public goes public, it has lots of hilarious hacks,” said one Reddit user.
Another user, Will, wrote that open-sourcing a project or piece of software means it can be audited by experts – and there will be a free feedback loop with suggestions on errors and improvements. It’s also about letting people know how they are being prioritized.
“Great… Can’t wait to see why there’s still a sandbag on my posts,” tweeted Joe Pags Pagliarulo.
Rife speculation, but what does it mean for you?
Tesla boss Musk has continuously made changes to Twitter’s policy, introducing paid blue tick subscriptions and a For You page recommendation modification. However, some users were doubtful about the latest Musk announcement regarding algorithms being made public.
“Definitely an April fool’s joke,” wrote one on Reddit.
Others speculate that this may simply be a technique to strengthen the platform, and that it will be closed soon.
“Coders will improve Twitter code base and Elon closes it,” wrote another Reddit poster.
Although it remains to be seen where this decision will lead Musk’s multi-billion dollar microblogging site, the excitement from users has been palpable.
But what does the change mean for you?
“On GitHub, you’ll find two new repositories (main repo, ml repo) containing the source code for many parts of Twitter, including our recommendations algorithm, which controls the Tweets you see on the For You timeline,” says the blog post.
According to the post, the algorithm prioritizes likes and retweets over replies when determining which tweets to feature in the For You timeline.
Unless you sign up to twitter blue and include links to your website your tweets will be downgraded
Maybe time for you to join instagram & forthcoming blue sky app I won’t include links as the algorithm may prevent you seeing
Social media is about content twitter lost the plot
— Masato Jones (@masato_jones) April 2, 2023
Each like is given a 30x boost, making it the most impactful parameter, while retweets are given a 20x boost. In contrast, replies only receive a 1x boost, indicating they are less likely to be featured on a user’s timeline.
By sharing this information with the public, Twitter is increasing transparency around its algorithm and helping users better understand how their timelines are curated.
“Both images and videos lead tweets to a nice 2x boost,” tweeted a user.
Musk overtakes Obama
The world’s second wealthiest man has now become the most followed person on Twitter.
After purchasing the microblogging site last year, Musk has gained over 133 million followers on the platform, surpassing former US President Barack Obama’s previous record, according to Guinness World Records.
— Guinness World Records (@GWR) March 30, 2023
Twitter has an estimated 450 million monthly active users, and approximately 30% of them follow Musk, according to the report.
In contrast, data tracker Social Blade reports that Obama and singer Justin Bieber each lost over 268,585 and 118,950 followers, respectively, in the last 30 days.
Elon Musk has become the most followed person on Twitter, overtaking Barack Obama pic.twitter.com/zHc11Pq2Kr
— Naija (@Naija_PR) March 31, 2023
Over the past six months, Musk has been in a battle for the title of world’s richest person, having surpassed Bernard Arnault twice but ultimately relinquishing the top spot after Tesla’s shares took a hit due to legal troubles.
Musk’s presence on Twitter has been hard to ignore, with his tweets frequently appearing on users’ feeds. However, his activity on the platform has also drawn criticism, with some questioning the motives behind his posts.
The billionaire’s tweets often have market-moving potential and are known for their cryptic nature. In addition, he has gained a following for sharing humorous memes and other amusing content.